Allegations of “criminal organization, corruption, and money laundering” have rocked the Brussels bubble as the police probe into the EU-Qatar graft scandal continues to grow.
Belgium’s intelligence service began an investigation with other European countries into cash for influence involving the Qatari and Moroccan governments and European Parliament in November 2021.
In April 2022, the European Commission proposed lifting visa requirements for nationals of Qatar and Kuwait visiting EU countries. By September of this year, the investigation had shifted to Belgium and Italy.
Between Friday and Monday (December 9-12), Belgian and Italian police raided at least 20 homes and parliamentary offices, seizing €1.5 million ($1.6 million) in cash and arresting eight people.
Among those charged is Greek MEP Eva Kaili, 44, who was one of 14 vice presidents of the EU parliament. The body on Tuesday voted 625 to 1 to strip Kaili of her role over the allegations. She has denied any involvement in the scandal.
Others detained include Kaili’s partner Francesco Giorgi, Pier Antonio Panzeri, a former MEP, and his wife and daughter, Maria Colleoni and Silvia Panzeri.
Niccolò Figà-Talamanca, who runs the lobbying group No Peace Without Justice, based in Rome and Brussels, also remains in police custody.
Kaili’s father, Alexandros Kailis, and Luca Visentini, chief of the International Trade Union Confederation, were detained but later released.
“This will go down in history as one of the greatest and most shocking violations – may be the largest scandal in European politics,” said Alberto Alemanno, a professor of European Union Law at the École des Hautes études commerciales de Paris.
”This is a culture of impunity that permeates the European Parliament,” said Alemanno.